Historically, our industry has used the term; “Third Party Data Consolidators” to describe technology companies that specialize in capturing, combining, normalizing, matching, mapping and reporting on multiple data sets for the purposes of providing global travel spend metrics, and data analysis in one solution. The reason this is a bad title or description for the value these technology companies provide, is that there is no magic to consolidating data. All companies do “data consolidation” and it’s typically the simplest part of the value that’s provided, and it boils down to having access to data.
The three most common ways data are consolidated are as follows:
- It gets pushed
- It gets pulled
- It gets extracted
The first two categories above describe how data are commonly accessed in an SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) environment using ETL (Extract, Transfer and Load) software. Number 3 is gaining popularity in terms of how data is accessed and this extracted process happens through API’s (Application Program Interface). With new technology, managing, maintaining and monitoring file feeds is not complicated.
“Data Consolidator” is a misleading label because the value that these technology companies provide to customers is less about the Data they consolidate and more about the information and insights they deliver. After data is consolidated, cleansed, managed and enhanced then it is reported through the use of dashboards and reports using a multitude of platforms under a SaaS model. So if you are considering using technology for the purpose of making data driven decisions for your travel program think less about “consolidation” and more about “actionable insights”. For superior program management these technology companies add value to corporate buyers for:
- Cost savings
- Supplier management
- Duty of care
- Policy compliance
- Program leakage and more…
Travel Data, Corporate Credit Card Data and Expense Data are all valuable “data”, however these are simply the raw materials, and by themselves render the end user little value. The magic is what happens after the data is consolidated. Simply put the management, enhancement, and the delivery of information and insights used to maker better and faster decisions about the largest indirect spend category that most companies struggle to manage.